cool places

It’s Refreshing

Try it. You’ll like it.

My brother, Rod, lives in assisted living. Due to the highly contagious Delta variant, we don’t go to lunch as often as we had, but coffee is okay.

Rod likes Dunkin Donuts, so we sought a shaded, wooded spot for a coffee, a bagel, and sit-chat-and-chat. We found a spot in the Trail View State Park, a 7. 4-mile trail between Bethpage State Park and Cold Spring Harbour. Here’s their link:

I often speak of our Long Beach shore as my haven in nature.

My brother, Rod and I on our Long Beach shore

But if you’re seeking shade, a wooded area is a nice change. And change, put most simply, is good—novelty refreshes.

In the woods, leaves breathe oxygen; the shade comforts you; the birds sing for you.

From NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation:

“Most of us sense that taking a walk in a forest is good for us. We take a break from the rush of our daily lives. We enjoy the beauty and peace of being in a natural setting. Now, research is showing that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that’s also free.”

As Rod and I chatted, a young lady passed to exit the trail. I noticed her scrubs, so I asked about her job. She said she was on her way back to work at a dentist’s office. She said, “It’s a ten-hour day today; this breaks it up.” I’m sure it does. For a respite from fluorescent lights, drilling, scraping, and the spitting of blood, there’s nothing like trees, bounding squirrels and—birdsong.

Rod loves getting out now and then, and I look forward to taking him out; Cheryl often joins us, sometimes my sister, Mary as well. On special occasions, during quarantines, Mary would make his favorite dinner at her home and deliver it to the lobby.

This time it was just Rod and me, for coffee.

Rod and Lee at Trail View State Park

As you know, I’m a presence enthusiast. I urge people on our Long Beach shore to be present in their walks: take in the sea, sand, and sky using all their senses. Be in it.

So when Rod began to tell me about his reminiscence conversations with his Somerset Gardens’ dining buddies, I cringed. Does he not know that I’m enlightened, that I extol being present? That the past and future don’t exist, only—NOW exists?

But when he began telling me about their memories of stickball, punchball, stoop ball, skully, bomber jackets, tee shirts with Luckies in the sleeve—a smile spread over my brain from lobe to lobe.

There is something about revisiting the past, something that says, “This is a cool place to visit.”

It refreshes.

Rod and his three table buddies, Tony, Rich, and Ira, have been reminiscing every day of late. Rod said, “Ira and Tony are excellent. Ira is so sharp; he’s got a photographic mind. I just say one movie star’s name, and he says what movies they were in.” These table mates love to reminisce. And I love hearing that Rod and his mates are happy.

Rod said he went online to find some stuff from the fifties and sixties to read at the table. His buddies didn’t like the look-up. He said, “They feel the fun is trying to remember it themselves.”

He agreed with them on the personal recall. But he confided to me that he still looks stuff up in his room. There was a glint in his eye, when he smiled and said, “When there’s a lull, I throw one of them in.”

Rod tested me on an old TV ad, “What was the product for, ‘Try it, you’ll like it?” I remembered the ad; I couldn’t recall the product. (See the answer at the bottom.)

Rod said he loves Somerset Gardens and went on about all its good qualities. They have movies twice daily, Many games, computer access too, but he has his PC. He used to shoot pool there often, but couldn’t find good competition.

I’m always relieved when he’s happy. Rod’s been at Somerset Gardens for seven years. We looked at many places before deciding on Somerset.

Now, one can’t be at any facility without encountering some issues. Over the years, Rod experienced a couple, but the Executive Director resolved them promptly.

It would be so sad if he said he hated being there. I’m sure some families have relatives in situations like that. It’s a lot of hassle to start a search all over again. But, as I say, he loves it.

I asked if his table mates felt the same. He said, “Oh, yeah, everyone I talk to likes it.” He told me a woman left Somerset for a new facility, but she just came back. He sounded like a commercial for Somerset Gardens (I’m sure I do too) but his heart was in it (as is mine). So, I thought I’d pass his thoughts, and mine, to you guys should the need arise in your families.

Rod said he likes the bright and cheerful atmosphere, with the courtyard, garden, and umbrella tables. They have barbecues every Wednesday—each week, a different theme. Staff dress according to the theme. Staff also costume up to all holidays, sometimes when it’s not a holiday.

They have musical performers play for the residents, school children perform for audience experience. In these pandemic times, families paraded their dogs around the building’s perimeter. Residents watched from their terraces. They’ve had marching band and car parades. I get the sense again and again that the effort put forth by Somerset is to do way more than necessary.

That’s refreshing.

Rod loves the staff who bring him his meds, make his bed, and clean his fridge. He said they are so friendly. Rod has frank chats with some staff members, he appreciates that. Maintenance staff hook up a new TV and add shelving if asked, all at no added cost.

Rod spoke of the dining room where they eat at waited tables. He said the Director, Dani, tries to place people at dining tables who might have similar interests. They even have a beer or two, or wine, if they like. Rod said, the wait staff and the chef are always so accommodating.

As we chatted on the trail, I happened upon two young lady hikers who seek out trails all over Long Island. Both have roots down my neck of Long Island’s shores. Donna has family in Lido Beach, Chris is in the Long Beach Volleyball tournament. They are both shore and shade enthusiasts.

They loved this Trail View Park but said, you have to be careful of poison ivy. Rod and I don’t actually trek the trail, we just walk in and sit in the shaded clearing. So, it’s a good choice for hikers, birders, and just shade seekers like us, and maybe you. Just type into your GPS, 8101 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY. (The entrance is just east of Stop and Shop)

Can’t miss the sign:

I think a big reason for the success of Somerset is its Executive Director, Long Beach resident Dani Laino.

Dani is a dynamic presence at Somerset. Executive Directors often present as professionally pleasant. Dani is young, enthusiastic, and genuinely warm.

If you just walked in the door and came upon her, you might think she’s a friendly nurse, not the Executive Director.

I think my greatest asset is that I’m good at reading people; it has served me well in my police career.

I feel that Dani takes the care of Somerset’s residents personally. The loss of one of them, or a staff member, is like the loss of a family member to her.

She’s always available for questions from residents or family. She sends out emails on coming events or the changes in the COVID fight at Somerset. Dani had all residents vaccinated early.

CDC changed their guidelines back and forth and back yet again. Somerset stuck to their strict regulations to fight that virus with— whatever was needed. We’ve relied on window visits for a long time.

Lee (COVID hair) and Rod (Not COVID hair) at a window and phone visit

Dani’s one of those people you come upon who you know, loves their job, loves the people under their care. They are people who are where they are supposed to be on this planet.

Rod and Dani at one of our through-the-window visits

We can only thank them for taking the path, the trail we find ourselves on, so to speak, where they make a difference in our lives and the lives of those close to us—one step at a time.

And that’s refreshing.

Dani Laino. (Photo from Somerset Gardens site)

Somerset Gardens:

“Try it. You’ll like it, ” was an ad for Alka Seltzer.

Be well,


2 replies »

  1. Thank you, Diane. Yes, we do have some laughs together. Rod is fortunate to have a good assisted living facility. You have a great day as well. Always good to hear from you. Lee


  2. Another wonderful story Lee! Two brothers who seem to love getting together as much as possible! I was so happy that Ron loves his life living in an Assisted Care facility! It is obvious that you are happy about that too! Say hi to Ron for me please! Have a great day!


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